When I was pregnant with our first sabra, I had the standard second semester ultrasound. When the sonographer handed me the report, it was in Hebrew, except for the word OBESE printed in bright red letters. Because, in Israel, they could care less if I know if my baby is normal, but they wanted to make darn sure that I knew I was fat.
Shortly after my son was born, we moved to a yishuv, and I decided to get some bohemian style clothes, so I could fit in. But when I went to the Bat Ayin store, the only thing they had in my size was a scarf. And the police advised me (or as they called it, “warned” me) that it was only meant to be worn on my head.
With the Israeli attitude towards weight, it’s almost as if being fat were a crime, and selling attractive clothes to us is liable to get you charged as an accessory. And yet, I see lots of other women my size walking around, and none of us are naked. I still primarily wear things I brought over when I came to the country, but these are starting to fall apart. Where are all of the other fat people shopping? I need some help!
I’ve managed to find a few stores in the country catering to ladies of size. These come in two types: ugly, low quality, and expensive; or ugly, medium quality, and extremely expensive. The first category is out because I’ve seen the material, and the seams always look two washes away from structural failure. And when you are on the larger side, a Janet Jackson style wardrobe malfunction could cause a personal injury lawsuit. The second category is definitely out for me, because I am constitutionally against spending more on a dress than I spent on my car.
In America, the low cost market has embraced the curvaceous. The Walmart clothing section is almost completely the inverse of the Israeli boutique, with wide expanses of plus size clothes crowding out pockets of small and medium size offerings. This completely understandable, since over a third of Americans are obese, and obesity rates rise as income levels fall. Walmart and fat go together like sweet potatoes and Marshmallow Fluff.
Given that moderate obesity, or a BMI of 30-35, results in an average three year reduction of the lifespan, I’m going to be honest with you and admit that this is not a top priority for me. With my luck, I give up the next twenty or thirty years of chip chomping on the couch, and then spend those three extra years senile and in diapers. That’s why I am working on losing weight slowly and gradually. This year’s goal: choosing the perfect exercise music and making a mixtape. (Although, is it technically a mixtape if it’s all MP3s?) I’ve sorted the songs for a mix of genres and beats per minute, so that I get the best experience while I sit on the bench panting after my brisk five minute walk down to the makolet.
But aside from my obsessive-compulsive disorder, the biggest obstacle to my beginning an exercise program is other fat people exercising. I wish you guys could put on a tee shirt letting me know why you’re doing it. I would feel lot better watching you puff around the block each day if your tee read “I know I look like I’m about to pass out, but I do this because it’s fun!”
With an obesity rate of 20% and rising, Israel will soon have to cater to a target market begging to be sold good quality plus size clothing at a reasonable price. It’s time that stores stop being treating plus size women like second class citizens when it comes to apparel! I’m going to give it a while, and if I don’t see significant improvements on this front, I’m going to organize a protest. Luckily, I’ve already got my tent. It’s hanging in my closet.